Scuba Diving International (SDI) of Topsham, Maine has announced that it has entered into an agreement with Scuba-Training.Net to offer the academic portion of scuba courses via the Internet. This makes SDI the first training agency to offer the academic portion of traditional scuba training on-line.
"Distance learning," or "on-line training" is nothing new, but the subject is "fresh" in the world of diving. Over the past several years, many companies and numerous universities have begun to use some form of Internet based training to educate students on a wide variety of subjects.
What makes the SDI on-line course different is that it combines text, animations, photography, full-motion video, and, this is very big, student testing with instantaneous feedback and record keeping. At the end of each training segment, the student completes a quiz, which is graded instantly by the computer. Any wrong answers are identified and corrected, and a record of the studentperformance is logged before the student moves on to the next segment. SDI, the dive store owner and instructor, know when the student logged on for each session, and can view all of their test results, maintaining a complete record of the student’s history. This helps to provide a much more "defense-able" record of training.
"The Scuba-Training.net infrastructure guarantees 100% remediation on all academic subjects. I encourage all SDI instructors to use this training methodology to ensure academic excellence in their programs," says Bret Gilliam, President of Scuba Diving International. One of the big drawbacks to diving education in the past was that scuba courses ran on rigid schedules, so students could not start training when they were ready, but had to wait for a specific course. Some training agencies developed their training videos so a student could pick up the tapes at any dive store to start the day they took the tapes home. The SDI on-line program has taken all of this a step further so that the student does not have to visit the dive store to initiate their academic training, but can start anywhere, at any time, as long as they have access to the World Wide Web via a personal computer. Students can start their scuba training instantly!
There are many differentiators between this "online" method of training and "offline" systems such as video tapes, CD-ROM’s and DVDs. The biggest difference is each student is presented with learning materials that feature scuba equipment carried by their local dive shop.
"It is like having a customized text book printed for each and every dive store that shows only the equipment that store sells with their facility logo on every page." says Sean Harrison, Training Manager of SDI.
Another key difference between the "online" and "offline" systems is that the dive store and instructor can view where any of their students are in any given course and how well they are doing, at any time. Coupling this with some server-side automation, dive stores can have an e-mail sent to their students the moment they finish the section on dive computers, congratulating the student and letting them know what current models of computers are available in the store. SDI students can sign up on their own, or through an affiliated SDI dive center. Obviously the program cannot take the place of an instructor when it comes to in-water training, and the student still needs to purchase a textbook.
The new SDI course will provide facilities with access to students who they might never have the opportunity to train. For example, take the case of a busy executive who is on the road, sitting in a hotel room with his laptop computer. He’s interested in scuba training, logs onto the Internet and finds Scuba Diving International or an SDI Facility participating in the online program. He learns that he can start his training right there in his hotel room, and that there’s a SDI affiliate close to his home where he can complete his in-water training. He signs up for the course and starts his training on the spot. At sign up time, the student is prompted to choose a SDI affiliated dive store to complete his in-water training, resulting in the store being paid a commission from SDI.
"Closing the sale for the online customer is a big bonus for the SDI affiliated dive shop," says Brian Carney, SDI’s General Manager, "even SDI stores that don’t have a web site will get paid commission for training students sent to them by way of the online training program."
Scuba-Training.net is the brainchild of Dan and Amy Nafe of Vero Beach, Florida. Dan is an instructor with multiple agencies with long experience in the diving industry. Steve Barsky of Marine Marketing and Consulting is also one of the partners in the venture. Barsky has developed numerous diver-training materials, as well as producing books and videos for Hammerhead Press and Hammerhead Video.
For more information on the Scuba Diving International Internet training course, contact Scuba Diving International at 18 Elm Street, Topsham, Maine 04086. Tel.(207) 729-4201 or (888) 778-9073. www.tdisdi.com